1 Teramar

Falkbeer Counter Gambit Analysis Essay

William Pollock is not the only chess player I’ve been reading about recently. I’ve been waiting three decades to read Jimmy Adams’ book Gyula Breyer, The Chess Revolutionary. published by New in Chess. It was well worth the wait.

You probably know two things about Breyer, that he played 9… Nb8 in the Ruy Lopez and that he claimed (perhaps because of 9… Nb8) that after 1. e4 White’s game was in the last throes. But neither of these is true, or at least there’s no evidence. The Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez was named by Barcza and other Hungarian players in the 1950s: they had been told by Viennese players that Breyer had recommended it in an essay, but the essay in question has not yet come to light. It was Tartakower who first claimed that Breyer had written that after 1. e4 White’s game was in the last throes, but again there’s no evidence that he wrote anything beyond saying that White’s position was compromised.

Like Pollock, Breyer had a short life and a short career. He was born in Budapest in 1893 and died of heart disease at the age of only 28 in Bratislava in 1921. His career started early, by the standards of his day, and he won the Hungarian Championship in 1912. He played at Mannheim in 1914, and was sharing fourth place when the tournament was abandoned due to the outbreak of war. There was no international chess for the next four years so he was only able to take part in national competitions. His best result came in Berlin in December 1920, when he scored 6½/9, finishing a full point ahead of Tartakower and Bogoljubov, but 11 months later he was dead.

Breyer’s historical importance was as a founder of the Hypermodern School of chess. He was a friend of Réti and a big influence on Nimzowitsch. Breyer may not have said that after 1. e4 White’s game is in its last throes, but he made some pretty sweeping and controversial statements about openings.

He believed, for example, that 2. d4 in the French or Caro-Kann was a mistake, preferring instead 2. d3, not, as we might today, playing a King’s Indian Attack but instead going for a reversed Philidor. He also recommended 1. e4 Nf6 2. d3, considering 2. e5 a mistake, and planning to meet 2… e5 with 3. f4, claiming a white advantage.

After 1. d4 Breyer awarded 1… d5 a question mark, and, if instead 1. d4 Nf6, 2. c4 also received a question mark because of 2… d6. I guess you can see what he’s getting at. Any pawn in the centre could be a target for attack. Did he actually believe his assessments or was be just being, like many chess players, a professional contrarian? Who knows?

His chess playing style was unconventional, as well, favouring paradoxical ideas and obscure manoeuvres, but also demonstrating an extraordinary combinational talent.

This book is very different from the scholarly biographies published by McFarland. What we have, in a hardback book of 876 pages, is a compendium of 240 games played by Breyer, with annotations collated from many sources, along with Breyer’s essays, articles and newspaper columns (he was a prolific journalist), translated into English for the first time, and articles about Breyer from many other sources. The material is arranged chronologically and interspersed with a biography of our hero.

Let’s examine Breyer’s most famous game. He’s playing white against Johannes Esser, in a tournament played in Budapest in 1917.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 c6
3. e3 Nf6
4. Nc3 e6
5. Bd3 Bd6
6. f4 O-O
7. Nf3 dxc4
8. Bb1

Most of us would recapture without much though, but Breyer has his eyes set on a king-side attack.

8… b5
9. e4 Be7
10. Ng5 h6
11. h4

This is Breyer’s immediate idea: the same idea as the Fishing Pole Trap. The intention is to mate Black down the h-file.

11… g6
12. e5

At this point Breyer claimed he’d seen up to move 26. Do we believe him? I have my doubts.

12… hxg5
13. hxg5 Nd5
14. Kf1

This extraordinary move is the reason this game became famous. The immediate point is to avoid a potential pin if Black plays Bb4, but the grandiose idea only becomes clear many moves later. White wants to avoid a potential Bh4+.

14… Nxc3
15. bxc3 Bb7

This looks suspect: how does this move help defend his king-side. Qe8 and Nd7 were better alternatives.

16. Qg4 Kg7
17. Rh7+ Kxh7
18. Qh5+ Kg8
19. Bxg6 fxg6
20. Qxg6+ Kh8
21. Qh6+ Kg8
22. g6

Now we see the main point of Kf1. If the king was still on e1 Black would have been able to defend with Bh4+ here.

22… Rf7
23. gxf7+ Kxf7
24. Qh5+ Kg7

Black could draw here by playing Kg8. Now 25. f5 fails to Qf8 so White has nothing better than perpetual check. However, I can find no mention of this in the book.

25. f5 exf5
26. Bh6+

Some sources stop the game here claiming either that Black resigned or that White won in a few moves. White did win – eventually, after mutual blunders in time trouble. 26. e6+ would have forced mate in 9 moves, as would either Ke2 or Bf4+ but Breyer’s choice didn’t spoil anything.

26… Kh7
27. Bg5+ Kg8
28. Qg6+ Kh8
29. Qh6+

29. Bf6+ was the quickest way to win.

29… Kg8
30. Qe6+

White could still return to the previous position but now Black can escape.

30… Kf8
31. Qxf5+ Kg7
32. Bh6+ Kxh6
33. Ke2 Bc8
34. Rh1+ Bh4
35. e6

35. Rxh4+ Qxh4 36. Qf8+ is a perpetual check. Now Black can win by returning one of his three extra pieces: 35… Bxe6.

35… Qe7
36. Qf4+ Kg7
37. Rxh4 Qxe6+
38. Kd2 Na6

38… Bd7 was a possible improvement.

39. Rh5 Qf6

The final mistake. After 39… Bd7 White would win the black queen under less favourable curcumstances and Black would have been able to fight on. Now a series of forks will pick up Black’s loose pieces.

40. Rh7+ Kxh7
41. Qxf6 Bg4
42. Qh4+ Kg7
43. Qxg4+ Kf6
44. Qf3+ Ke7
45. Qxc6 Rg8
46. Qxa6 Rxg2+
47. Kc1 1-0

A flawed masterpiece, you might think. The same could also be said for the book. The amount of research, much of which was carried out three decades ago, is prodigious and the material endlessly fascinating. It’s strange, though, that, although twenty pages are devoted to discussing this game, quoting analysis and articles from many sources, and some computer analysis has been carried out, there’s no mention of 24… Kg8, which demonstrates that Breyer’s combination, spectacular though it was, should only have sufficed for a draw.

There are a few minor oversights: for example, the tournament table on p853 is incorrectly captioned. There has been, understandably some criticism concerning insufficiently detailed sources. This might be annoying if you’re a serious chess historian and want to refer to the originals but will be of no concern to most readers.

If you have any interest at all in chess history this book is an essential purchase. If you have an specific interest in the development of chess ideas over the years, again you have to buy this book.

One final thought. Last week I suggested that we were living in a golden age for chess history, with outstanding books such as this one being published regularly. Now chess is becoming a game for small children and professional players, will there be anyone left to write, or even read books like this in twenty years time? Or is chess history in its last throes?

Richard James

This entry was posted in Annotated Games, Articles, Richard James on by Richard James.

Chess Openings

Study and play the Main Openings – Variances – Database All Openings – Play the 500 Main Openings Rated – Eco Code System Explained – Eco Code List – Type of Play – By Chess Players – By First Move –By Name – By Eco Code Category – Variances on Chess Boards by Eco Code – Games above 2200 in Rating from Year 2000 to 30. June 2017 for the 500 Main Openings – Old Games from Year 1560 to Year 2012 for each of the 500 Main Openings – All Recognized Openings on Chess Boards – Opening Explorer – The 20 Most Played Openings – Chess Type – Opening Traps – Common Grand Master Openings – Practice Popular Openings Rated – Practice any Opening or Game Rated – Books on Chess Openings – Photos of the Main Openings and more. If you’re Rated above 2200 you might find your Games here within the section Opening Games.

Chess Strategy

To pay attention to the Opening Lines is probably the single hardest thing to do for a club player. With the opening theory evolving very rapidly, Grandmasters dedicate most of their preparation time to the opening analyses. Hours and hours of their time is spent to understand the feasibility of one or another variation, and to search for the tiniest positional advantage. No wonder it is so hard to follow the theory during a live game.

However, there is a trick that can be used to help you to understand what’s going on in the opening stage, as well as to learn something new for yourself.

You should pay specific attention to the opening lines of the Grandmaster’s whose opening repertoire is similar to your own. After the start of the Grandmaster’s game you can input the first 10-15 or so moves into a chess database of previously played high level games, to search for ideas and to understand the opening line better. You can use the Online Game Database to do so and from the Eco Code in the Game you can make a search on Clean Chess to find the Main lines with variances. For some Openings you’ll also find articles and videos.

The Middle Game

Try to understand the plan

The tricky part of the Game. You’ll find The Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations and access to more than 100.000 Tactics in the Tactical Trainer.

After the end of the opening stage of the game, do a complete analysis of the position. You may ask, how do I know if the opening stage has ended? You have to judge by the development of the pieces, castling and so on. After all of these preliminary steps are completed, you may safely assume, it’s a middle game. Often after move 10 or after one of the Recognized Chess Openings. Analyze the position thoroughly and try to come up with a most reasonable plan you’re capable of, based on the positional elements of the position, tactical motifs, pawn structure, activity of the pieces, etc.

Next, you need to compare your plan with the Grandmaster’s plan. If yours is completely different you may re-evaluate the position and change the plan.

You may be able to practice a plan in different Middle Game scenarios and Train Tactics to win more Games and increase your rating. That is a very useful skills for a chess players of any level.

Place yourself in Grandmaster’s shoes

If you smell tactics, try placing yourself in the Grandmaster’s shoes. Doing calculations of lines that can occur after a pawn push, exchange or a sacrifice. Try to find the best possible defensive move for your opponent and evaluate if the tactics you found would still work.

Another great method that can be used to improve your own game while observing your favorite player is ‘guess the next move‘. You take a piece of paper and write down the predicted moves (or better else series of moves) for the side you’re playing on. Then compare your moves with what actually happened in the game. Don’t worry if you cannot guess the correct moves and combinations right away. If you practice often, your thinking process will adjust and you will be able to guess the correct moves more and more often.

Analyze the key positions over the board

If the game has approached a critical point it is a time for a deep evaluation of the position. You may judge if the position is critical or not by a few different factors:

  1. There is a tactic, sacrifice or an Attack option
  2. Nature of the position dramatically changed or is about to change
  3. There is an important decision to be made that will affect how the game will progress

It may be a little difficult to analyze a complex position in your head if you’re at club player level. Feel free to setup positions in the Analysis Program (with the chess engine ‘off’ of course) and shuffle the lines and variations. Turn on Computer Analysis to get an evaluation.

The End Game

Take the Ultimate End Game Course to become a Master in End Games. Checkmate Training from Basic Checkmate patterns to solve more than 4.000 Checkmates going from 1 to 3 moves and learn Quick Kills also called Miniatures.

Learn the endgame techniques

The End Game is mathematically simplest part of the game, though can be very tricky to play in real games. Observe how Grandmasters play at this stage of the game, especially, the positions where they are a pawn up or a pawn down in Rook endgames, two Rooks vs. Queen Endgames, Knight vs. Bishop, or in other common chess endings.

In the Encyclopedia of the End Game you’ll find all the End Game Positions and Courses to Master the End Game.

Improvements and updates are done here frequently. It’s recommended that you take a look at some of the pages again after a while.


One of the best ways you can use this website is to study an Opening Group: Eco Codes with Variances. Then Practice it and most important analyse your Games after Play to learn the right moves and variances. Most people forget this and rating is not to increase much during a year.  Study – Play – Analyse – Play – Study – Analyse. You’ll have more fun and get stronger. Make an opening repertoire by continue to play the openings and save into your own Database.

You’ll find the 500 Main Openings with Games and option to play them. Plus the Variances shown on Chess Boards, Sorted alphabetically, by name, eco code and category. The Eco Code (Encyclopedia of Chess Openings) is your Key to the World of Chess Openings, which you’ll find explained under Chess Openings.

Besides all this you’ll find Chess Tools, Chess Books, Weekly Updated Top Games by Grand Masters, Weekly Chess Newspaper, Articles and Videos from Beginner to Master Level.

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